Challenges

"Helping people around the world become healthier"

Creating Zero Events - zero extreme medical incidents, such as heart attacks while satisfying country-specific permissions and certifications for products, as well as, continuously innovating product design and manufacturing processes.

 

For a company like Omron, their efforts often require that they meet government agency compliance requirements while improving their overall product development operations. Omron Healthcare Co. Ltd. (a division of Omron Corporation), based in Kyoto Japan, is a manufacturer and distributor of personal heart health and wellness products available in more than 110 countries and regions around the world. Over the past 40 years, they have sold more than 200 million of their market-leading blood pressure monitors.

Omron Group has been conducting its business in a wide variety of areas, including control/factory automation systems, electronic components, automotive electronic components, social systems, and medical/health devices and services. In 2011, Omron developed and announced a “Value Generation 2020 (VG2020)” long-term vision for the following 10-year term through 2020. The theme of VG2020 is “Sensing & Control + Think, for a Brighter Future for People and the Earth.

The Goal

One of Omron Healthcare’s critical missions is achieving “Zero Events.” Zero Events according to the company means “helping people monitor their blood pressures more frequently, identify risky blood pressure fluctuations, predict risk of illness and prevent events from occurring,” which means reducing illness (events) to zero. In order to realize this ambitious goal, Omron Healthcare is communicating this goal globally and actively engaging global partners to develop products and services. This “Zero Events” initiative is a driving force behind the VG2020 as well as VG2.0 strategies.

Omron Healthcare is working to strengthen the product development capabilities of its overseas teams in order to accurately capture local needs and address those in a timely manner.

One of the challenges Product Development organizations were facing was sharing of digital data. Technical information has been centrally managed in Japan. The company has been actively working on digitalizing engineering data and processes, implementing 3D CAD, CAE, PDM and other tools. Engineering data is digital, but there were other types of data stored on individual computers—preventing Omron Healthcare teams from fully leveraging the digital data they created.

Omron HealthcareAlso, technical information and audit-related documents were managed mostly as thick, paper-based documents. Omron Healthcare then realized that continuing to manage data in a traditional way would create a situation where it is harder and harder to quickly and accurately support increasing number of changes. They actually saw an increasing number of delays and errors updating information.

They implemented a quality management system (QMS), but the team began to see limitations of their QMS in supporting increasing product and process complexities. One of the biggest challenges they were facing in their global business was country-specific permissions and certifications. Obtaining FDA certifications is said to be particularly challenging. FDA certification is an absolute requirement for anyone to market food, drugs, and medical devices in the US.

“Our employees in Japan, even they face inconveniences, get things done by putting extra time and effort. There are actually some things that we manage to get done in that way,” says Mr. Yoshihisa Toki, General Manager, Development Center, Product Development HQ, R&D Management Department, Omron Healthcare Co. Ltd.

The Solution

Omron Healthcare then began its journey of digitalizing technical documents and implementing PLM. In order for the team to gain full benefit from PLM, it was critical for the PLM system to be integrated with 3D CAD and other engineering tools, EBOM and MBOM management systems, ERP and other enterprise systems, and with a diverse set of systems and data linked to research & development and engineering. In addition, the new PLM system needed to be integrated with the ERP system and a variety of data that Omron, its parent company, manages.

Some people raised concerns: asking if they would be able to get benefits from the cost and effort they put into, or why they should invest while the current paper-based process is working. However, the senior management’s sense of urgency was so strong that they decided to take a top-down approach to the digitalization initiative and jump-start the project.

After going through a process of evaluating a number of PLM systems, Omron Healthcare selected PTC’s Windchill.

What was key for the team to select Windchill?

  • Windchill provides templates based on best practices developed by existing users, and new users are able to leverage their knowledge and experience
  • Windchill is a solution that provides a wide range of OOTB (Out-of-the-Box) capabilities
  • Windchill has a Multi-CAD data management capability, supporting a variety of mechanical as well as electrical CAD data
  • Ability to share data through the cloud is a critical part of accessing the same set of data from anywhere in world
  • Windchill’s solution package designed to support the medical industry
  • Windchill Medical Package that Omron Healthcare has selected is equipped with a set of OOTB FDA certification support tools that can be used without customization

Windchill in a sense is a system that provides the milestones that others placed along their journey to the top of a steep and rugged mountain of PLM implementation.

Windchill in a sense is a system that provides the milestones that others placed along their journey to the top of a steep and rugged mountain of PLM implementation.

The Results

Windchill helps engineers innovate themselves and their future products.

”We will be able to consolidate once-dispersed data onto Windchill,” says Mr. Toki. “We will know how others see your data. This will help us understand the types of data others need; as well as, the types of feedback we should provide to others. This will be a great benefit for us. With Windchill, everyone will be able to search for and find the data he/she needs and will have a wider point of view.”

Omron Group is actively engaged in research activities to develop next-generation products—envisioning a future of IoT and AI in addition to sensing and control technologies. They say their technology environment based on Windchill might converge with such future. We all should look forward to a further evolution of their Zero Events initiative and a future where everyone in the world becomes healthy.

"Our junior engineers of the future will then be able to spend more time engineering, working on more creative work, and this I believe will enhance the level and quality of our design."
Mr. Yoshihisa Toki, General Manager, Development Center, Product Development HQ, R&D Management Department, Omron Healthcare Co. Ltd.